Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men are moving on the AUS championship after a 32-10 victory over the Acadia Axemen in the Subway AUS semifinal playoff game in a wet and windy Saturday afternoon at StFX Oland Stadium.
Two huge touchdown runs by U SPORTS leading rusher Jordan Socholotiuk (Waterford, ON) in the first half powered the X-Men offense to the win as StFX moves on to the Subway AUS Loney Bowl championship game next Saturday, November 10th against the Saint Mary's Huskies.
The X-Men got on the board first during their first possession of the game when Socholotiuk found a seam in the Axemen defense and broke through for an electrifying 103 touchdown run. The run marked the second longest rush in AUS history, behind a 108-yard play by StFX's Terry Arnason dating back to 1967.
The Axemen replied with a touchdown late in the quarter, making the X-Men pay on a turnover. Veteran fifth year defensive back Brandon Jennings (St. Albert, AB) intercepted a Bailey Wasdal (Calgary, AB) pass and after a nice 25-yard run by Blake Rennick (Ottawa, ON), Axemen running back Dale Wright (Markham, ON) took it in for two-yard touchdown score.
The 7-7 score held up after the first quarter of play.
An Axemen 12-yard field goal two and a half minutes into the second quarter off the foot of Jennings gave them a 10-7 lead.
StFX replied with a field goal of their own as Keiran Burnham (Cambridge, ON) split the uprights from 11 yards out. AUS leading receiver Kaion Julien-Grant (Toronto, ON) had hauled in a 66-yard pass to put the X-Men in viable field position.
Burnham then secured his own spot in the AUS record book, booting the second longest field goal in conference history with a 53-yarder. The kick also set a StFX record, surpassing a 52-yard field goal by Pat Donnelly in 1989.
Despite leaving the field for treatment of an upper body injury late in the first quarter, the injury didn't appear to bother Socholotiuk as he scored his second major of the game with just over a minute to play in the opening half, breaking through Acadia tacklers to run it in from 52 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff Burnham kicked it through the end zone for a single point as the X-Men closed out the first half with a 21-10 lead over the visiting Axemen.
Socholotiuk racked up 193 of his 242 total yards in the first half as he went on to earn Subway player of the game honours.
The X-Men went up 26-10 in the third quarter off an Axemen conceded safety and a 21-yard Burnham field goal.
Acadia started the fourth quarter on a positive note as Cameron Davidson (Wolfville, NS) came up with a big special teams play, blocking Burnham's kick-off attempt. The Axemen couldn't translate the possession into a scoring threat however, as they continued to struggle on offense in the second half.
The only scoring in the fourth quarter came on a six-yard touchdown run by X-Men quarterback Wasdal on a first and goal play with seven minutes left in the game, and a single point off another long Burnham punt with 1:24 left on the clock as the X-Men took home the 33-10 victory.
The StFX defense came up big with four pass break-ups, and the defensive line shut down the Axemen running game.
Acadia managed 275 total offensive yards to StFX's 441.
Socholotiuk finished with 24 carries for 242 yards. Julien-Grant hauled in 7 catches for 127 yards as Wasdal was 12-19 for 189 yards in passing. Julien-Grant also had a trio of rushes for 21 yards and came up with another big return game for the X-Men on special teams.
For the Axemen, Hunter Guenard (Calgary, AB) was 18-38 for 218 yards. Wright picked up 55 yards on the ground on 15 carries, while in the air Glodin Mulali (Moncton, NB) and Cordell Hastings (Calgary, AB) and were the top Acadia receivers with four catches each for 52 and 51 yards, respectively.
Acadia player of the game linebacker Bailey Feltmate (Moncton, NB) who was tasked with covering Socholotiuk for the game led the Axemen defense with 14 tackles.
The Subway AUS Loney Bowl will take place on Saturday, November 10th at Saint Mary's Huskies Stadium as the first place Huskies (7-1) host the second place X-Men (6-2) in a 2:00 pm kick-off.
In regular season play the Huskies defeated the X-Men 20-13 in the very first game of the season back on August 24th in Halifax and again on September 29th in Antigonish by a close 27-24 margin.
Courtesy StFX Sports Information